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By T. Parsons

Initially released in 1956.

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According to the general theory, the goal of a differentiated subsystem “contributes” to the functioning of its larger system. We have defined the economy’s contribution as specialization in the solution2 of the adaptive problem of the larger system. This adaptive function now may be more closely defined. ). Positively it implies the possession of a maximum of fluid disposable resources as means to attain any goals valued by the system or its sub-units. The general concept for these disposable resources is wealth from a static point of view and income from the point of view of rate of flow.

THE PROBLEM: CURRENT SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY 7 theory can be derived from the general theory by introducing the appropriate logical restrictions. Third, it is necessary to show that economic theory does not stand alone, but is one of a family of special cases on a cognate level. Finally, we must show that systematic analysis of the relations between the economic and certain of the noneconomic cases illuminates the boundaries of the economic field. During the course of this general programme we will consider two questions implicit in the above.

We think it is legitimate to identify these, at least in part, with what Marshall discussed under the heading of “activities” as distinguished from “wants” as the subject-matter of economics. ” We agree that this is true, in so far as work is not in the usual sense “economically motivated” but is an expression of internalized values. 2 The striking fact, in sum, is the correspondence—category for category—between the established economic classifications of the factors of production and the shares of income and a classification of the input-output categories of social systems which was arrived at in work on the level of general theory independently, without the economic categories in mind at all.

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